Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Gulen Takes A Hit In California

Yes, the staff here at*  is monitoring the situation in Los Angeles, where LA Unified's elected board apparently decided not to renew three of the Gulen (Magnolia) charters in that district.

Magnolia has apparently spent the better part of a $1m (taxpayer) to bring in something like 130 Turkish fellows over time on H-1B visas.

If you are paying attention to events, you will already know that the Gulen Movement is in growth-mode here, and these imported people are part of the revenue-growth strategy. The taxpayers of California are basically paying to import people to work in these Gulen-linked charter schools and the Movement-linked businesses that grow up around them. It's a little walled-off economy to fuel the Movement, which has transnational agenda related to a very specific Turkish sect.

They're doing that here in Chicago, as well.

The future is unclear; California is one of those states where the charter can "shop" for an authorizer--- that's one of those bullshit ALECky ideas that runs so contrary to representative democracy that it astounds me how common it is.

In other words, the school district has voted not to renew the charter, but the charter can simply appeal to another board, and then I believe they can also appeal to one of those Heather Steansy-type appointed state commissions. It's all in the name of ideology.

Still, it's a good step forward, this move by LAUSD.

The reporting on this will be terrible; the California press has been very reluctant to point out that there is a Turkish syndecult operating in broad daylight in the charter sector there.

I believe I heard in the recent Ohio press conference that Robert Amsterdam's people have debriefed a money courier from the California operation---- someone who takes the cash kickbacks from the H-1B employees and delivers it to Pennsylvania. Now there's an interesting job!

*Scout, Brody, and Duke

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Ground Is Shifting Under The Gulen Charters


Two interesting contributions in the comments.

First, related to this post about the Robert Amsterdam press conference in Ohio,
I am the executive director of ProgressOhio, and you ask the definitive question: How can Ohio officials cover this up? Here is a link of past coverups: 
There is a new person in charge of the Ohio Department of Education who I knew and respected when I was a statehouse reporter for The Plain Dealer of Cleveland. He gives me hope. And Mr. Amsterdam referred this to our state auditor, David Yost, who has outed some of the other charter misdeeds. We will be monitoring this one. As I'm sure you have heard, Ohio charter schools have been the subject of national ridicule for a long time. Our kids and our taxpayers deserve much better.

And also this, related to some photos I posted (in the same post referred to above) of the cracked concrete walls on the CMSA gym on Clark Street in Chicago.
I can tell you what is wrong with that wall. They cut corners and did not pull out the existing asphalt and concrete. In order to have a wall weather concrete or bricks you have to dig out and pour a foundation and footer reinforced with rebar. They just poured that wall right over the existing foundation. The weight of the wall is causing the ground to shift thus causing the cracks. That wall is waiting to fall over. These Gulen guys who puff there chests out claiming to be Turkish scholars in the fields of math, science and engineering cannot even follow a simple blue or even comprehend why structures are built a certain way including construction law makes you wonder what are they teaching these kids? How to cut corners, cheat the system, break the laws grease building inspectors? Everything we know about the Gulenites is that they are cheap and lazy. To the point they would kill a kid to save a few dollars. Why hasn't a real inspector been over there telling them to tear it down? In the mean time that whole area needs to roped off with caution tape until that is removed. In the process they should be fined each and every day that wall is still standing. -Bill Thacker

I know nothing of concrete construction, but I bet that guy is right on the corner-cutting; that would go along completely with details from Texas in Killing Ed. I wish I had paid more attention when they were building this thing.

I can only confirm that I cased the joint this morning on my way to Jewel; I walked around the whole thing and took pictures, and the cracks are in basically every section of the gym wall.  I'll post those shots in a while; I've got some chicken soup to make at the moment.

Meanwhile, curl up with this 18-page account of a real estate shell game.

NB: For future reference, yes, I did report this situation to the department of buildings. Seemed weird to blog about a safety issue without reporting it.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Massive Gulen Charter School Fraud In Ohio

I'm posting here what I believe to be the complaint recently filed in Ohio by Robert Amsterdam's firm. It describes in detail the nature of the fraudulent financial operation that Concept is running in that state.

Concept is headquartered here; it is only a matter of time before a similar complaint is filed in Illinois. Even so, many of the players in this complaint are working out of Des Plaines already, so we Illinois folks are already attached-at-the-hip to this mega-scandal.

It's a remarkable story; you'll have to read it a couple of times for the pieces to come together in your mind. But they've done an excellent job of cataloging a web of malfeasance so complex that is should not surprise anyone that state agencies have been unable to unravel it.

On a personal note, I'm trying to work with a school finance person to do a simple explainer-video on the difference between normal public school property finance, and this insane publicly-financed yet privately held boondoggle that the Gulenists have taken advantage of in Ohio and Illinois.

But it isn't easy.

Brace yourself for this report; it's the description of what looks exactly like a criminal operation working a massive three-card monte game right in front of the eyes of anyone and everyone responsible for preventing just such a thing.

I recently wrote an open letter to Concept teachers; it reached worldwide audience, and I know some of the local Concept teachers read it. Now I reiterate everything I said, and I hasten to point out this obvious truth: you're working for a fraud ring.

Friday, October 14, 2016

I Read Tony

So you don't have to! (But still, you should...)

From the October 12 Newsletter from Tony Smith, two things.

One, this is a Gates Foundation-supported thing. Way of the future, you know.
In other exciting news, I am proud to announce that Illinois is joining Future Ready! The Alliance for Education, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, is creating a network of district leaders dedicated to planning and implementing digital learning strategies – and to achieving the more personalized approach to teaching and learning that every child deserves. Illinois has committed to supporting school district leaders in utilizing Future Ready resources. I encourage you to take the Future Ready District Pledge to ensure that your district benefits from the free resources and professional learning opportunities available. Superintendents who sign the pledge are provided free access (for their entire district staff) to summits, workshops, interactive planning tools, mentoring, and regional networking. Click here to see who has already signed the pledge in your area. 

Personalized learning... It almost never actually means what you would think it would mean, given the definition of the two words comprising the phrase. In any event, Dr. Smith encourages you to take the pledge.

Two, this is a handy reminder for everyone except charter schools, who are for some bizarre reason exempted from this requirement: the ASA's are due by December 15.

And what, pray tell, does that mean?

Well, it means that every school district must publish in the paper an accounting of all of its payments over $2,500, among other things. Additionally, they must submit a (publicly accessible) electronic version with more detail- to ISBE. If you wanted to track almost every check a district writes, you can do that in Illinois.

But you can't do it with a charter. Because CHOICE, or something. Voting with feet. I have no idea.

Check it out.

The School Code, Section 10-17 (105ILCS 5/10-17) states that, school districts/joint agreements are required to complete the Annual Statement of Affairs (ASA) and publish in the local newspaper the “PublishedSum 4” page, all salary schedules, and vendor contracts over $2,500. School districts/joint agreements are also required to submit the completed electronic form to Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) (excluding the payments of $500 to $999).

The ASA must be published in the local newspaper no later than December 1 annually and submitted to ISBE electronically no later than December 15 annually. ISBE will publish the ASA on the ISBE website by January 15 of the following year.

Even if the school district/joint agreement’s annual audit is incomplete for the fiscal year, the ASA can be completed from their accounting records. If the ASA is not submitted by the deadline date a finding will be noted on the audited Annual Financial Report (AFR). 

Can you think of any reason in the world why charters would be exempt from this? Me neither. In fact, the CMO's should be included in this statutory requirement as well. Particularly since we have a very sketchy transnational religio-social business empire operating through the charter sector in Illinois.

Is This Who I Think It Is?

From this current chart.

Or is it just an identical name..  Did I miss a press release? Does everyone know about this except for me?

To My Tea Party Readers

Somehow I ended up on some suburban tea party mailing list again. This happens a lot to me because I write about the Gulen issue, which appeals to some elements of the right wing.

Listen, if you're a tea party person, or whatever, and you're reading my posts about Gulen, please go away. I'm not writing these things to confirm your paranoia about Islam.

I'm writing them to highlight the reality that a transnational syndecult has inserted itself into our wildly ungoverned charter sector, and that it's a dangerous, inappropriate phenomenon.

We could solve this problem by putting some appropriate controls on the charter sector, which itself is out of control. The problem here is the charter sector. We shouldn't be surprised that in a completely unsupervised, opaque-by-design sector of privatized public education, an aggressive, secretive sect has found the perfect vehicle for expansion.

Trump sucks.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

An Astonishing Account Of Gulen Charter School Fraud

Not sure if I'm going to get spanked for this or not, but I took-without-asking some Periscope footage from Progress Ohio.

It's the press conference from a couple days ago--- the one where Robert Amsterdam highlights some of the themes of his complaint filed with the state auditor there about the Gulen (Concept) schools operating in that state.

It is in every way astonishing footage, and I say this as a person who has been tracking this issue for a few years now. It's a description of a fraud ring so massive and evasive that it I have no idea how these puny state governments are going to fight it.

The part that needs to be understood by my local readers is that this massive wave of Ohio fraud is being coordinated, to a great extent, in an office in Des Plaines, Illinois.  We have no agency in this state, frankly, that has the chops to look at something on this scale. As for the charter school commission, they're a dysfunctional body, never intended to perform actual governance.

Amsterdam talks about a real estate scheme in Ohio where all of these related Gulen-linked parties perform a shell game to generate money for the Movement. Loans are made to cover insolvencies created by excessive rents. This is in addition to the visa fraud, which he puts at $3m in Ohio alone (that's taxpayer money used to apply for visas Turkish men, who come over and kick back part of their salary in a type of tithe to the Movement.)

The question and answer session at the end has some interesting tidbits in it. [It's a long press conference, so crank the volume and listen while you make dinner.]

Apparently there will be some revelations about Illinois coming out soon. A $40m gymnasium? Hm... Possibly that's the 30-year rent-back that CMSA is paying New Plan? We'll see.

Speaking of gymnasiums (totally a sidebar here).... has anyone else noticed that the fissures in the gym walls at Chicago Math and Science Academy are growing? I'm not an architect but I can tell you that something ain't right with those walls.  Possibly they're just a superficial phenomenon but if they were growing on my gym, I'd call someone. I'll try to take some pictures tomorrow on my way to work. Check it out, if you're driving by. What are those things?

It's all so interesting; I wish I could study it full time. Take that gym, for example. Taxpayers paid for it, ultimately. But who owns it? They do.

Update:  Did a little drive-by this morning. The fissures are cement patch-jobs on what appear to be cracked concrete panels. I'm not sure how concrete wall-construction works, but it looks to me like the elements are probably going to take these walls down at some point.

Here's a close-up of one of them. I'm not sure if a cement smear over cracked concrete is going to resolve the issue of moisture destroying the concrete. I think you have to go in with some kind of injection filler. But what do I know?

The elements are taking a toll on this entire structure; I didn't have time to walk around the building but I'll try to do so later. Look at the pock marks on the upper panels. It looks to me like the concrete mix was bargain-basement.

It looks like a kind of cheese...

Years ago, when I moved back to Chicago, I was in a brief conversation with now-disgraced Juan Rangel. He was telling me that he could get a building built for considerably less than a traditional public school, and that this was one of the great things about UNO.

Well, if his buildings are anything like this Concept school,  it looks to me like penny-wise, pound-foolish.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hey Drop What You're Doing And Do This!

Fundraiser tonight for RYHAction.

Purchase your ticket here.

Just purchase a ticket, already! Go!

A certain Gulen-watching blogger will be making a cameo appearance.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

About That $42M Charter Boondoggle...


I give up. I can't find a live site anywhere in Illinois government that tells me who is getting taxpayer money (courtesy of the Steans family and Ron Sandack and Bruce Rauner) to undermine democratically elected school boards across Illinois.

I've written about this before.  It's the big five year, $42m grant that Arne Duncan sent Bruce Rauner to fund people to start charter schools. It's got like ten layers of irony. Federal tax money, which should be used to fund public education, is being diverted into private hands to develop proposals for charter schools, which divert state and local tax dollars away from public education.

Anyway, unless the Sun-Times is on the case, I don't think anyone knows yet who's getting the dough. Do you think the Trib is tracking this stuff? No.

So once again, I jump into the fray like a crazy person.

That's a pretty big FOIA*.  I've limited the scope a little bit, but basically I want to see who received an award notice, and the applications submitted by the lucky winners. I also want to see who was interested in getting one of these Design or Implementation grants.

Oy... it's a thicket. If you feel like helping me go over the information when it comes in, please get in touch.

[Evidently there are three kinds of grants: Program Design, Implementation, and Dissemination.
The Program Design/Implementation grants were due sometime in April; you had to file an intent to apply by March 1.

There was also, apparently, and RFP for these dissemination grants sometime in April, but I can't tell when they were due, and I don't see a deadline for filing an intent to apply. The only thing I can see that's concrete is that notices of awards were scheduled to go out July 1.

And yes, it appears to me that charter operators can apply for dissemination grants for things that happened in the past. It's all a boondoggle.

*Believe me, a FOIA this size will be a gigantic headache. I myself handle FOIA's and there really is no time in the day for it. Yes ISBE has a FOIA staff, but you really do have to be cognizant that you're creating work for someone whose day is already booked, when you file these things.